Community focus for new-look pub

A VILLAGE pub has reopened its doors following a major refurbishment – the first phase of a �350,000 investment which will also involve a deli-style shop and a micro-brewery.

The White Lion, at Lower Ufford, near Woodbridge, has been owned for the last seven years by husband-and-wife team Stephen and Gaynor Thurlow, who are long-time residents in the village.

The pub is known for hosting a variety events, drawing visitors from miles around, but they are now aiming to cement further its role in the heart of the local community.

They re-opened the bar in late February, thanks in part to locals who volunteered to help out with the painting, and the refitted kitchen came into use a week later, with a new menu and an expanded wine list now complementing the spruced-up interior.

Work is now in progress on the shop, which is due to open next month, and the micro-brewery which is expected to be completed in May. Longer term plans also include bed and breakfast accommodation.

Mr Thurlow, a past winner of the East Anglian Chef of the Year title who has also cooked for the UK in the World Culinary Olympics, said the aim was to make the White Lion “a celebration of Suffolk food culture”.

“There are so many brilliant producers in the area, including Sutton Hoo chickens and local fish from Felixstowe and we are already producing our own eggs, pork, beef and honey on site,” he said.

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“Gaynor and I have always tried to place the pub right at the centre of village life. Now we want to build on that by offering even more. It’s a fabulous village but we’ve lost our shop recently so we need a thriving local and the role of the modern pub is changing all the time.”

From Easter, the White Lion will be extending its opening hours to provide coffee and home-baked cake in the morning as well as light lunches and gourmet evening meals.

“We want people to feel welcome to pop in at any time whether it’s for a pint, a cappuccino or a three-course meal – or even just to do some shopping,” added Mr Thurlow.

“We’ve smartened it up without losing its rustic soul,” he added. “I’m really looking forward to a new era of offering brilliant local food, but the prices will remain very affordable.”